The Good and Evil of Technology

Traditional institutions should fear advancements in science and technology because it threatens their existence. Priestley’s quote “The English hierarchy (if there be anything unsound in its constitution) has equal reason to tremble at an air pump, or an electrical machine” gives light to this. There are more concrete facts and science behind an air pump than behind the English government. However, because everything is so multidisciplinary, social and scientific institutions need to draw from each other for survival and betterment. Johnson argues that “To rely on old institutions and not conjure up new ones – is to betray the core and connected values that Priestley shared with the American founders” (240). As a final note of the novel, Johnson uses the modern-day example of the environmental crisis to illustrate how the convenience of technological advancement also has multiple consequences.

Johnston describes a “technological fix” as using technological advancements in an attempt to remedy society’s wide spectrum of issues. Weinberg, who coined the term “techno-fix”, saw it as a need for scientists to help better humanity (social, political, and culture) related problems. After World War II, productivity was up, thanks to technology,  and that meant more time to fix social issues or just simply progress. Also, with the invention of nuclear technology, social issues and technology had somewhat merged. Political and economic elites started using “technological fixes” because they quickly solved issues like terrorism (plane jacking) and environmental degradation (oil spills). Both Huesemann and Huesemann argue against the use of “technological fixes” for everything because ultimately it cannot fully save the world from problems, and even creates some as well. The Huesemanns argue that “modern technology is directly related to the scale of exploitation of nature.” The environment has suffered from human-made “advancements” that have contributed to climate change and other irreversible damage. 

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